Tag: COVID-19

Ensuring healthcare access to non English including Hindi speaking patients


By SAT News Desk/Medianet

MELBOURNE, 14 August 2020: One consequence of the COVID-19 crisis has been many non-English speaking people neglecting their other health concerns. The pandemic has made many not to go to their GP’s fearing the virus. It comes following GP concerns about CALD patients avoiding medical care due to fear of the COVID-19 virus, while also bearing the brunt of the pandemic, including increased mental health symptoms, isolation, and loneliness.

To counter this The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is helping culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) patients, including those who speak Hindi, access care from a GP during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The RACGP’s Expert Advice Matters campaign is encouraging CALD patients to keep looking after their heath during the COVID-19 pandemic and consult their GP for any health concerns.

A website for patients has been translated into the most commonly spoken languages other than English, including Hindi, Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Vietnamese. The websites include practical information for patients on how they can safely access care from a GP, including telehealth and telephone consultations featuring free interpreters. You can view the website in Hindi here: https://www.expertadvicematters.com.au/hindi/

GPs are helping to spread the message by sharing videos of themselves speaking in different languages, urging patients not to delay routine healthcare, and explaining how they can safely consult with their GP. You can find the videos on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLKg37k2DuVFPDvTWVer3SyZBK31R80BvE

In the latest 2016 Census found India was the second most common country of birth for people in Australia, where English is the main language. More than 455,389 people reporting their birth country as India or 1.9% of the population.

RACGP spokesperson Dr. Lara Roeske says more is needed to be done to reach CALD patients missing out on healthcare.

“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, CALD communities in Australia already faced health inequalities and barriers to accessing healthcare including language and health literacy issues.”

Evidence suggests migrants, particularly those newly arrived, use health services less. The National Health Survey found that of those arriving in Australia between 2009 and 2015, 74%had visited a GP in the last 12 months, compared to the Australian-born population total of 86 percent.

Dr. Roeske said the pandemic had magnified the problems.

“The pandemic has only made matters worse – many patients are avoiding seeing their GP because they’re afraid of the virus and don’t know about or feel comfortable using telehealth.

“With all the rapidly changing health information and changes to the way patients can access care, it’s not surprising that some don’t know how they can safely access healthcare and are putting off important appointments. We need to fix this now.

“I’m very concerned that patients delaying care could face worse problems down the track. Particularly given some CALD communities have higher rates of chronic disease and need regular routine health checks to stay well.

“This is why it’s so important that we get the message to CALD communities that you need to keep taking care of your health during the pandemic, and there are safe ways to get the expert care you need.

“We need to do better to communicate to CALD patients and provide information that’s translated and culturally appropriate. The extension of the RACGP’s Expert Advice Matter’s campaign to CALD communities aims to do just that.

“My advice for patients is this: if you’ve delayed an appointment or have a new health concern, don’t wait any longer – your GP is here to help, book an appointment today.”

7 Tips for Safer Healthcare recommended by the RACGP:

· don’t delay healthcare, call your GP for any concerns

· you can consult your GP on the phone or via video technology. Telehealth appointments are bulk billed for concession card holders, under 16s and vulnerable patients.

· if you need an interpreter, call the Australian Government’s FREE Translation and Interpreting Service (TIS) Ph 131450.

· you can get a prescription from your GP on the phone or video and collect the medicine from a pharmacy

· it’s safe to visit your GP in person if you need to – clinics have made changes to protect you from COVID-19 including physical distancing and regular sanitization.

· patients in Victoria must wear a face mask or covering when visiting their GP. Patients living in other areas with community transmission are also advised to wear a mask when visiting the GP

· if you have COVID-19 symptoms (cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, fever or chills or loss of smell or taste) get tested right away and self-isolate until you get the results.

Coronavirus digest: COVID-19 shows ‘no seasonal pattern,’ warns WHO

WHO Director-General Dr.Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addressing a media conference in Geneva. PHOTO- SAT

There had been high hopes that the summer heat would slow the pace of transmission. This is not the case, according to the World Health Organization which made an appeal to governments. Catch up on the latest.

The novel virus “has demonstrated no seasonal pattern as such,” said a top official from the World Health Organization on Monday, warning health authorities to keep fighting it.

“What it has clearly demonstrated is that if you take the pressure off the virus, the virus bounces back,” said Dr. Michael Ryan at a press briefing.

The coronavirus pandemic is continuing to accelerate despite the arrival of warmer weather in some countries.

Scientists and politicians had earlier predicted that the virus would fade in the summer before picking up the pace again in the winter — similar to other respiratory viruses such as influenza.

Several countries, particularly in Europe, had started easing restrictions in a bid to get economies up and running over the summer. Lockdowns had previously appeared to be curbing the outbreaks.

Countries where COVID-19 appears to be under control — such as those in Europe — still need to maintain measures to slow virus spread, said Ryan.

Ryan called for countries where transmission remains intense, such as Brazil, to adopt measures so that communities have the necessary support they need to implement strategies like social distancing, wearing masks, and self-isolating if they have symptoms.


Thailand plans to allow at least 3,000 foreign teachers to enter the country while keeping out tourists and tightly restricting other arrivals to guard against new coronavirus infections.

Those who have registered to return include teachers returning to their jobs after leaving during the pandemic, as well as newly employed teachers, Attapon Truektrong, secretary-general of the Private Education Commission, said on Monday.

The teachers, who come from countries including the Philippines, New Zealand, the United States and Britain, will have to be quarantined for 14 days after arrival. Thailand largely barred scheduled passenger flights from abroad in early April.

Thailand hosts many international schools and there is a general shortage of qualified teachers of English and other non-Thai languages.

In India, cases are continuing to surge. The Health Ministry says the total number of fatalities reached 44,386 on Monday after a record 1,007 people died in the past 24 hours. Infections also surged by over 62,000 cases.

India has recorded more than 60,000 cases of the virus daily in the last four days and more infections than any other country in the world for six consecutive days. It has averaged around 50,000 new cases a day since mid-June. Infections in India remain concentrated in 10 states that contribute nearly 80% of the new cases.


Indigenous people in Peru were involved in a clash with local police following an assault on an oil company settlement in the Amazon, the government said on Sunday.

Around 70 indigenous people attempted to overrun the settlement at the remote town of Bretana in the Loreto region to voice their displeasure over government apathy towards native communities during the coronavirus pandemic and frequent oil spills. 

Three native community members were killed and multiple people — six police officers and 11 indigenous people — were injured.

The Republic of El Salvador will hand out immunity passports to people who have recovered from COVID-19, President Nayib Bukele announced on television late on Sunday.

Those issued with a certificate can then be employed by the government to distribute medical kits and food aid to households affected by the pandemic. It will also give them social privileges not enjoyed by the rest of the population.


Australia reported 19 new coronavirus deaths on Monday, but the state of Victoria, which is the epicenter of the country’s second wave of the virus, saw a decrease in the number of confirmed infections.

Victoria reported 322 new confirmed infections in the last 24 hours, marking a two-week low, officials said. However, state premier Daniel Andrews has said that one cannot read too much into a single day’s data. 

Other states still haven’t posted their daily totals but the 19 deaths reported in Victoria over the past 24 hours already mark the country’s highest single-day rise in fatalities.


This weekend temperatures exceeded 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) in some parts of Germany. With many Germans on summer holiday and some foreign travel restrictions still in place, authorities feared that people heading to lakes would not respect social distancing. 

However, crowds at Germany’s lakes were somewhat smaller than expected.

German firms expect public life to be restricted for another 8.5 months due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey. Companies in hardest-hit sectors, such as the leisure industry, are most pessimistic about life returning to normal.

In France, authorities made face masks wearing mandatory in crowded areas and tourist hotspots as coronavirus infections once again surge in the region.

Masks will be obligatory for all those aged 11 and over “in certain very crowded zones,” according to a police statement.

The zones include the banks of the Seine River and more than one hundred streets in the French capital, including tourist destinations like Montmartre, where the Sacre Coeur basilica is located.

A group of migrants who sailed from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos last week arrived with the coronavirus, said authorities on the island capital Mytilene, sparking fears of a mass outbreak at the overcrowded migrant camps.

Of the 38 people in the group, 17 tested positive and displayed symptoms of COVID-19. They will remain in isolation for two weeks in the Kara Tepe camp before being re-tested.

Greek authorities are quarantining all migrants who arrive on the island as a precaution against the epidemic.

The EU’s health agency has urged countries seeing an increase in cases of COVID-19 to reinstate some curbs, warning of a resurgence of cases in parts of Europe.

Source- dw.com

VIDEO: Revert to full employment to overcome neoliberalism and COVID-19 jobs crisis

Economist Robert Pollin advocates a macroeconomic agenda centered on full employment to deal with the rapidly unfolding jobs crisis.

By Newsclick

Economist Robert Pollin advocates a macroeconomic agenda centered on full employment to deal with the rapidly unfolding jobs crisis. The decades-long neoliberal attack on the working class has heightened with COVID-19. He says that the world needs a New Deal to counter levels of unemployment and inequality, which were last seen during the Great Depression.
Source- Newsclick, 30 June, 2020.

13 insider tips on how to wear a mask without your glasses fogging up, getting short of breath or your ears hurting


By Craig Lockwood* & Zoe Jordan**

After midnight tonight, wearing face masks will be mandatory for people in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire when they leave home. It’s also recommended in New South Wales when physical distancing isn’t possible.

This means many Australians will be wearing a face mask for the first time.

Yes, wearing a mask can be uncomfortable or frustrating, especially if you’re not used to it. People who wear glasses, those anxious about being able to breathe properly, or who wear masks for extended periods of time face particular challenges.

But health workers, who have long used face masks as part of their everyday work, have developed a number of useful workarounds we’d like to share.

How do I stop my glasses fogging up?
For people with glasses, wearing a mask can lead to their lenses fogging, reducing their vision. As you breathe out, your warm breath shoots upwards out the top of the mask. When it hits the colder lens, it cools down, forming condensation, or fogging.

Having to keep on taking off your glasses to wipe them clear, and putting them back on again, is an infection risk. So preventing or minimising fogging is the key. Here are some tips:

1. Soap and water — wash your glasses with soap and water (such as regular washing up liquid), then dry them with a microfibre cloth. This type of cloth typically comes free with each pair of glasses. You can also buy cheap microfibre cloths from most optometrists. Facial tissues may leave lint, which attracts moisture to the lenses. Soap reduces surface tension, preventing fog from sticking to the lenses.

2. Shaving foam — apply a thin layer of shaving cream to the inside of your glasses, then gently wipe it off. The residual shaving cream will protect the lenses from misting up.

3. De-misting spray — you can use a commercial de-misting spray that dries clear. But make sure this is compatible with your lens type or existing coatings on your lens. You can buy demisting spray online or from your optometrist.

4. Close the gap on surgical masks — mould the nose bridge at the top of your surgical mask to your face to reduce the gap that allows warm moist air up to the glasses.

5. Twist ties and pipe cleaners — if you make your own cloth mask, add a twist tie (for instance, from a loaf of bread) or pipe cleaner to the top seam of your homemade mask and mould that to your nose for the same effect.

6. Tape — some health professionals apply a strip of tape that’s specially designed for use on skin to the top edge of the mask to close the gap. You can buy a roll online or at the pharmacy.

7. Damp tissue — slightly moistening a tissue, folding it and placing it under the top edge of the mask also does the trick.

8. Nylon stocking — Victoria’s health department says you can also get a snug fit across the cheeks and bridge of the nose by wearing a layer of nylon stocking over a face mask.

Sadly, there is no magic trick, such as putting the mask or glasses on first that will stop fogging. Improving the fit around the curve of the nose and cheeks is the best approach.

I feel anxious about wearing a mask. What can I do?
Putting on a mask may make you feel anxious or you may find it hard to breathe normally, especially if you’re new to wearing a mask.

Fortunately, the World Health Organisation and others say there is no evidence a face mask will cause either a drop in blood oxygen or an increase in blood carbon dioxide levels for normal everyday activities.

If you do feel anxious about wearing a mask, here are some tips:

9. Practise at home — take a few minutes before leaving the house to get used to the feel of wearing a mask. Slow your breathing, breathe gently, with a slower, longer inhale and exhale while focusing on the fact that air is getting to your lungs, and safely out again.

10. Try another mask — if you still feel breathing is difficult, try a different mask, use a commercially available design, or use different materials in your next home mask project.

What can I do to stop my ears hurting?
Once you have been wearing a face mask for several hours, you may notice discomfort around the ears as the ear loops can chafe the skin. Here’s what you can do:

11. Wear a headband with buttons… — one solution is to wear a headband with two buttons sewn onto it. Sew the buttons so they sit behind the ears. Rather than looping the mask around your ears, loop it around the buttons instead. This takes the pressure off the skin, increases comfort and helps you keep the mask on longer.

12. …or a paper clip — unfold two paper clips and wrap them around a headband, again positioning them behind the ears. Leave enough paperclip exposed to hook your earloops over, then press down to clamp down the loops in place.

13. 3D printing — freely available 3D printer templates allow you to print your own ear shields.

It’s worth getting this right
It may take a few attempts to get used to wearing a mask. But with a bit of trial and error, your glasses should remain fog-free, your ears comfortable and any anxiety about wearing a mask should reduce.

Wearing a mask in public is another thing we can do to help keep ourselves and the community safe, alongside social distancing and hand hygiene.

* Associate Professor Implementation Science, University of Adelaide.

** Executive Director, JBI, University of Adelaide.

Source- The Conversation, 22 July 2020. (Under Creative Commons Licence)

UN report: 690 million people went hungry in 2019 ; achieving zero hunger by 2030 in doubt

Photo- FAO

By SAT News Desk/WHO Media

Rome, 13 July 2020 – More people are going hungry, an annual study by the United Nations has found. Tens of millions have joined the ranks of the chronically undernourished over the past five years, and countries around the world continue to struggle with multiple forms of malnutrition.

The latest edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, published today, estimates that almost 690 million people went hungry in 2019 – up by 10 million from 2018, and by nearly 60 million in five years. High costs and low affordability also mean billions cannot eat healthily or nutritiously. The hungry are most numerous in Asia but expanding fastest in Africa. Across the planet, the report forecasts, the COVID-19 pandemic could tip over 130 million more people into chronic hunger by the end of 2020. (Flare-ups of acute hunger in the pandemic context may see this number escalate further at times.)

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World is the most authoritative global study tracking progress towards ending hunger and malnutrition. It is produced jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agriculture (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Writing in the Foreword, the heads of the five agencies warn that “five years after the world committed to ending hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition, we are still off-track to achieve this objective by 2030.”


The hunger numbers explained

In this edition, critical data updates for China and other populous countries have led to a substantial cut in estimates of the global number of hungry people, to the current 690 million. Nevertheless, there has been no change in the trend. Revising the entire hunger series back to the year 2000 yields the same conclusion: after steadily diminishing for decades, chronic hunger slowly began to rise in 2014 and continues to do so.

Asia remains home to the greatest number of undernourished (381 million). Africa is second (250 million), followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (48 million). The global prevalence of undernourishment – or overall percentage of hungry people – has changed little at 8.9 percent, but the absolute numbers have been rising since 2014. This means that over the last five years, hunger has grown in step with the global population.

This, in turn, hides great regional disparities: in percentage terms, Africa is the hardest hit region and becoming more so, with 19.1 percent of its people undernourished. This is more than double the rate in Asia (8.3 percent) and in Latin America and the Caribbean (7.4 percent). On current trends, by 2030, Africa will be home to more than half of the world’s chronically hungry.

The pandemic’s toll

As progress in fighting hunger stalls, the COVID-19 pandemic is intensifying the vulnerabilities and inadequacies of global food systems – understood as all the activities and processes affecting the production, distribution, and consumption of food. While it is too soon to assess the full impact of the lockdowns and other containment measures, the report estimates that at a minimum, another 83 million people, and possibly as many as 132 million, may go hungry in 2020 as a result of the economic recession triggered by COVID-19. iii The setback throws into further doubt the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 2 (Zero Hunger).

Unhealthy diets, food insecurity, and malnutrition

Overcoming hunger and malnutrition in all its forms (including undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, overweight and obesity) is about more than securing enough food to survive: what people eat – and especially what children eat – must also be nutritious. Yet a key obstacle is the high cost of nutritious foods and the low affordability of healthy diets for vast numbers of families.

The report presents evidence that a healthy diet costs far more than US$ 1.90/day, the international poverty threshold. It puts the price of even the least expensive healthy diet at five times the price of filling stomachs with starch only. Nutrient-rich dairy, fruits, vegetables, and protein-rich foods (plant and animal-sourced) are the most expensive food groups globally.

The latest estimates are that a staggering 3 billion people or more cannot afford a healthy diet. In sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia, this is the case for 57 percent of the population – though no region, including North America and Europe, is spared. Partly as a result, the race to end malnutrition appears compromised. According to the report, in 2019, between a quarter and a third of children under five (191 million) were stunted or wasted – too short or too thin. Another 38 million under-fives were overweight. Among adults, meanwhile, obesity has become a global pandemic in its own right.

A call to action

The report argues that once sustainability considerations are factored in, a global switch to healthy diets would help check the backslide into hunger while delivering enormous savings. It calculates that such a shift would allow the health costs associated with unhealthy diets, estimated to reach US$ 1.3 trillion a year in 2030, to be almost entirely offset; while the diet-related social cost of greenhouse gas emissions, estimated at US$ 1.7 trillion, could be cut by up to three-quarters.iv

The report urges the transformation of food systems to reduce the cost of nutritious foods and increase the affordability of healthy diets. While the specific solutions will differ from country to country, and even within them, the overall answers lie with interventions along the entire food supply chain, in the food environment, and in the political economy that shapes trade, public expenditure, and investment policies. The study calls on governments to mainstream nutrition in their approaches to agriculture; work to cut cost-escalating factors in the production, storage, transport, distribution and marketing of food – including by reducing inefficiencies and food loss and waste; support local small-scale producers to grow and sell more nutritious foods, and secure their access to markets; prioritize children’s nutrition as the category in greatest need; foster behavior change through education and communication; and embed nutrition in national social protection systems and investment strategies.

The heads of the five UN agencies behind the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World have declared their commitment to support this momentous shift, ensuring that it unfolds “in a sustainable way, for people and the planet.”